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Rothenberg, A.B. (1973-74). Infantile Fantasies in Shakespearean Metaphor: II. Scopophilia and Fears of Ocular Rape and Castration. Psychoanal. Rev., 60(4):533-556.

(1973-74). Psychoanalytic Review, 60(4):533-556

Infantile Fantasies in Shakespearean Metaphor: II. Scopophilia and Fears of Ocular Rape and Castration

Alan B. Rothenberg

I.

When he wants to express wishes, fears, and anxieties that derive from the very early stages of infantile mental life, Shakespeare characteristically turns to the use of metaphor, which we use broadly here to mean imagery.a His images often run like obbligatos underneath, yet parallel to, the stage level of his plot actions. Seeming to have struck a compromise with the repressions of the unconscious, they transform the manifest content of surface actions in a manner analogous to that by which dream symbols accomplish these ends in night dreams. Elsewhere I have attempted to describe two such subterranean leitmotifs in Shakespeare's imagery: the oral rape fantasy,15 in which the mouth of a passive infant is raped by the piercing breast or mouth of an aggressive, too-loving mother or nurse; and the related fantasy of being buried alive, smothered, and eaten by the mother or nurse.16

Chains of scopophilic metaphors also delineate an ocular rape fantasy beneath the surface actions of many of Shakespeare's writings. In this fantasy, the scopophilic eye is conceived to be an organ that is pierced by dazzling light reflected by woman's beauty, by her naked body, or, in particular cases, by the sight of her vagina, with results that blind, destroy, or in other ways profoundly disturb the visual apparatus of the beholder. Here, as in the fantasies of oral rape and smothering, Shakespeare's imagery gives expression to wishes, fears, and anxieties that derive from the early infant psyche.

II.

In

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